The US Senate has rejected Senator Dianne Feinstein's controversial 'Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012' to the Farm Bill.
The Humane Society of the United States has strongly objected to the action taken by the US Senate to exclude consideration of two animal welfare amendments and issues in the Farm bill.
Specifically, Senate leaders denied consideration of an egg industry reform measure that would have phased out the use of barren battery cages, provided more space and enrichments for hens, and provided greater regulatory security for egg producers, given that there is a growing patchwork of conflicting state laws and food safety standards on the subject. The United Egg Producers and The HSUS worked out an agreement last July to seek a national standard by amending the four-decades-old Egg Products Inspection Act.
“It is an outrageous subversion of the process for Senate leaders to deny any consideration of animal welfare issues in the Farm bill,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “Tens of millions of Americans care deeply about the welfare of animals, and this snub of that enormous and growing constituency and their denial of progress on critical policy reforms is unprecedented.”
Reauthorisation of the farm bill
The Farm bill is reauthorised every five years or so, and it deals with wide-ranging agricultural and food policies throughout the nation. “For years, we’ve been lectured to work with the agricultural community, and we did just that by forging an agreement with the egg industry that provides stability and security for egg farmers that will last for many years. The Senate, bowing to special interests in other sectors of animal agribusiness, thumbed its nose at the process of compromise and reconciliation and now has put an agreement between all the major stakeholders at risk. Here’s a case of Congress acting on behalf of special interests and defying common sense,” added Pacelle.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council objected to any improvements on animal welfare within the context of the Farm bill. “These groups lobby for hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars in subsidies in all of their varying forms, but they want no meaningful standards and no accountability when it comes to animal welfare,” Pacelle continued. “They are so extreme on the issue of animal welfare that they’ve even been willing to block progress sought by egg farmers—an entire sector of animal agriculture that they have nothing to do with.”
In opposition the Humane Farming Association applauded the Senate action. “The Bill would be disastrous for laying hens who would be forever locked in cages — as well as for millions of voters whose rights would be traded away," said Bradley Miller, National Director of the Humane Farming Association.
"The egg industry is seeking to establish egg factory cages as a national standard that could never be challenged or changed by state law or public vote," said Bradley Miller, National Director of the Humane Farming Association. "This bill would preempt state laws, such as California's Proposition 2, and is a direct assault upon egg laying hens, voters, and states' rights."